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Artistic Expressions and the Great War, A Hundred Years On

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Edited By Sally Debra Charnow

The Great War set in motion all of the subsequent violence of the twentieth century. The war took millions of lives, led to the fall of four empires, established new nations, and negatively affected others. During and after the war, individuals and communities struggled to find expression for their wartime encounters and communal as well as individual mourning. Throughout this time of enormous upheaval, many artists redefined their role in society, among them writers, performers, painters, and composers. Some sought to renew or re-establish their place in the postwar climate, while others longed for an irretrievable past, and still others tried to break with the past entirely.

This volume offers a significant interdisciplinary contribution to the study of modern war, exploring the ways that artists contributed to wartime culture – both representing and shaping it – as well as the ways in which wartime culture influenced artistic expressions. Artists’ places within and against reconstruction efforts illuminate the struggles of the day. The essays included represent a transnational perspective and seek to examine how artists dealt with the experience of conflict and mourning and their role in (re-)establishing creative practices in the changing climate of the interwar years.

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8. Gendered Propaganda: The Financial Appeal to Women in World War I Germany (Paul D. van Wie)

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PAUL D. VAN WIE

Gendered Propaganda: The Financial Appeal toWomen in World War I Germany

ABSTRACT

World War I was a tremendously expensive war both in human and financial terms. Marshalling the necessary funds to cover war costs was challenging for each belligerent power, and especially so for Germany. Unlike the Allied powers, Germany did not have full access to world capital markets and so was forced to raise most of the funds domestically. At the same time, women in wartime Germany took on new and important financial roles within the family and in business. German women thus became the targets of extensive propaganda efforts, designed to mobilize their support for the war. Artists and writers were commissioned to create images and words specifically directed to motivate German women to buy war bonds. As the war progressed, propaganda images were further refined to target specific subgroups such as mothers, elderly women, and young women.

World War I initiated and accelerated social change in European society with women assuming unprecedented importance in both individual households and in the various national economies. With millions of men away at the front for prolonged periods, and millions more dead or disabled, European women performed labour of all kinds, including tasks customarily done by men. Though women, especially working-class women, had always constituted a substantial component of the labour force, during World War I they played a critical role in nearly every sector of the economy. While...

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